Sergio Martinez rallies to stop Matthew Macklin after 11
By John J. Raspanti, Doghouse Boxing (March 18, 2012) Doghouse Boxing (Photo © German Villasenor)
Sergio Martinez
By John J. Raspanti, Doghouse Boxing: Defending middleweight champion Sergio Martinez (49-2, 28 KOs) retained his WBC and Ring Magazine titles with a with an 11th round stoppage of game Irishman Matthew Macklin (28-4, 19 KOs) at a raucous Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York.

The victory was anything but easy for the 37-year-old champion who struggled mightily at times with the determined Macklin. Martinez entered the contest a prohibitive 10-1 favorite while the 29-year-old Macklin had the support of most of the fight fans in attendance. A St. Patrick Day's Massacre this would not be as Macklin fought the champion on even terms through the first five rounds.

Martinez began the fight circling and jabbing while Macklin followed. Macklin was reaching with his punches and finding air. He did connect with a couple of glancing body shots near the two minute mark. Martinez continued to circle and dropped his lands, but also missed a lazy combination.

In rounds two and three, Martinez continued his circling and jabbing. He snapped Macklin's head back with a sharp right and caught the younger man with a jolting left uppercut. Macklin stuck to his game plan. His right hand found the range a couple of times as did a left to the head. His style was obviously frustrating Martinez.

Macklin landed a right to Martinez's chin early in round four that excited the crowd. Martinez stunned the upset minded challenger with a perfectly timed uppercut. Martinez was jabbing but unsure how to attack. Macklin continued to stalk and throw his lead right hand. The pattern continued in round five as Macklin kept Martinez off balance.

The action picked up near the end of the round as both fighters fired combinations with Macklin again gaining an edge. Martinez wadded in with his hands at his sides in round six hoping to lay a trap. Macklin landed two more hard shots as the crowd roared. Martinez jabbed and countered back to little effect. Macklin worked the body while Martinez was able to connect with a good left.

Martinez stung Macklin with a long left in round seven. The crowd could smell an upset as Macklin again connected with a strong right to Martinez's chin. Martinez still looked sluggish in places, but his inner switch was about to get a jump start. As the fighters held each other near the ropes, Macklin landed a looping right hand off the side of Martinez’s head. Martinez lost his balance and stumbled, his right glove touching the canvas. Martinez was unhurt, but the result was a knockdown. Macklin celebrated as the crowd roared.

Could an upset be in the making? The matter of fact answer is no. All the knockdown did was the annoy the champion. Within a few seconds of the knockdown, he backed Macklin into the corner and fired a blistering combination.

Martinez came out for round eight deadly serious. His intentions were different now. He smacked Macklin with a hard left and right. His jab stung as did his right hand. Macklin suddenly looked slower and the champion faster. It was obvious that Martinez was now fully engaged in the battle. He continued his onslaught in round nine. His jab was stinging Macklin consistently as the game challenger struggled to keep up. Martinez was beating him to the punch. Two more hard left to the chin of Macklin quieted the crowd in round ten. Martinez was systematically taking Macklin apart. Macklin resembled a balloon with a slow leak.

In round 11 Martinez again hurt Macklin with strong right. A few seconds later a powerful left deposited the gutsy Macklin on his hindquarters. Macklin was up at seven but bleeding and wobbly. Bloody but unbowed he came in for more. Soon though he was down again courtesy of a sweeping left hand.

Macklin trainer Buddy McGirt had seen enough and called the fight after inspecting his fighter.

Martinez knew he had been in a tough fight.

“It wasn’t that difficult, but a complicated fight," Martinez told HBO's Larry Merchant. "He was a tough rival. I knew it was just a matter of time."

On the undercard, Edwin "La Bamba" Rodriguez outworked Don "Da Bomb" George en route to a unanimous decision victory. Rodriguez remained undefeated while George dropped the second fight of his career.

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